State’s success in tackling TB wins expert praise

Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director-General for Programmes, World Health Organisation

Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director-General for Programmes, World Health Organisation   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

Substantial fall in number of youngsters being tested positive, says Soumya Swaminathan

Kerala’s fight against tuberculosis is now on a sound footing, and the State can think realistically of eliminating the disease, says Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director-General for Programmes, World Health Organisation.

According to her, there are several indications to suggest the State’s success in combating the disease.

TB is becoming rare in the State. Earlier, one out of 10 patients tested for the diseases came up positive, and the figure has now come down to one per 20 to 25 persons taking the tests, said Dr. Swaminathan. She was speaking to The Hindu here on Sunday on the sidelines of the first Professional Students’ Summit at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) organised by the Department of Higher Education.

Dr. Swaminathan, formerly Director-General of the Indian Council for Medical Research, and Secretary, Department of Health Research, is a world-renowned researcher on tuberculosis and HIV.

Shifting age profile

One of the positive indicators for Kerala in its fight against TB is that the age profile of patients has been shifting. Now, older people are being tested positive for the disease, while it used to be the younger population earlier, she said, adding that case notifications had been coming down.

Vulnerability mapping

She lauded the State’s initiative to do vulnerability mapping to identify groups prone to the disease. The groups include those with risk factors like poverty and poor nutrition, and they are being tracked, resulting in effective medical intervention.

Dr. Swaminathan was all praise for the participation of private healthcare providers in the State in its fight against TB through the mediation of the Indian Medical Association. Reports of TB detection in the private sector is high in Kerala compared to other States.

She, however, warned of latent TB to which the older population is vulnerable. There is no affordable test to detect dormant infection, but the situation is set to change over the next two to three years. Given Kerala’s current strategies, it can look forwared to substantial reduction in TB cases over the next five years, she added.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 11:49:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/states-success-in-tackling-tb-wins-expert-praise/article26231520.ece

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